Power at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians

O.S. Gifford

O.S. Gifford

Asylum superintendents were powerful by the nature of their jobs (see previous post). The situation at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians especially consolidated power in its superintendent, simply because there was no other likely person to share it.

When Canton Asylum opened on the last day of 1902, superintendent O.S. Gifford (a non-medical man) used the services of his assistant superintendent, Dr. John Turner. Though Gifford was ultimately responsible for the asylum and could call all the shots–which he sometimes did to the detriment of patients–he realized that some authority had to go to Turner as the only medical person at the facility.

Dr. Harry R. Hummer

Dr. Harry R. Hummer

Harry R. Hummer replaced Gifford in 1908. Dr. Turner resigned after less than a year, fed up with Hummer’s arrogance and dismissive attitude. In August of 1909, Hummer received another assistant superintendent, Dr. L.M. Hardin, from the Leech Lake reservation. Early in 1910, Hardin quit in frustration. After that, Hummer never employed another physician at the asylum.

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